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What I wish I would have known: A letter to my 15-year-old sister

Next month, I will be celebrating my golden birthday (turning 20 on November, 20th in 2020). And with that, I will be saying goodbye to my teenage years as I enter a new stage of life.

As I reflect, I recognize that I am someone who prides myself on living life with no regrets. I believe everything happens for a reason. I believe heartbreak and mistakes grow us into the people we are meant to be; however, there is so much I wish I would have known when I was 15.

This is a letter to my 15-year-old sister as she begins what were some of the best years of my life:

Dear little sister,

There is so much I could write. In almost 20 years, I have collected a multitude of stories and lessons.

First, you don’t have to alter who you are to impress other people. It’s okay to go against the crowd and stand up for what you believe in. You are strong and a fighter and the only person who can tell you any different is yourself.

As important as being in a relationship may seem, the friendships I made were so much more valuable. When I look back on high school, my favorite memories are times spent with them, where I wasn’t afraid to be myself.

But if you do find yourself in a relationship, remember that you are only 15 and you’re going to make mistakes. Don’t let anyone tell you that your feelings aren’t valid because whatever your heart feels is 100% justified. And at the end of the day, sometimes it seems like you’re never going to get over something in the moment, but years from now you will look back with a whole new perspective.

The only thing that is not temporary is family. Love them and cherish them. When you go through your first major heartbreak, they will be the ones who pick up the pieces and put you back together. When life feels hopeless, they will remind you of how much they love you and everything there is to look forward to. And when you eventually go off to your own adventures, you will miss them more than you can even express.

Most importantly, I want you to have it all. I want you to have your own experiences and learn your own lessons. I want you to call me up and tell me all about the people you meet, the places you see and the adventures that you’re going to remember for a lifetime.

Looking back, I am so grateful for the first loves, the heartbreaks, the best friends, the ex-best friends, the stories that live on through my photo albums full of pictures, the talks with mom and dad that stick with me to this day and the moments that built the person I am today.

I can’t wait to see who you become.

- Love, your big sister

And to my fellow college students, I think it’s important to recognize how far you’ve come, and how much you have overcome. It might seem like life is always throwing hurdles your way, but when you look back, you realize that both the good and bad moments of life defined who you are today.

If it wasn’t for your ex-best friend, you would probably still be hanging around people who don’t value you. If it wasn't for that test you failed freshman year, you probably would still be hoping you could pass without studying. If it wasn't for your first real heartbreak, you probably wouldn’t have grown into the person you are, the person who doesn’t need a relationship to define them.

And if it wasn’t for all of your mistakes, you wouldn’t have the knowledge you do now. You wouldn’t be ready to tackle the challenges ahead.

So the next time you’re down on yourself about your past, just remember that it only prepared you for the future. It made you into who you are today, and I can’t wait to see who you become.


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